The growing prominence of digital retailing is opening up significant opportunities for the aftermarket industry. - © Chiosea

The growing prominence of digital retailing is opening up significant opportunities for the aftermarket industry.

© Chiosea

It’s an exciting time for companies that offer voluntary protection products for car buyers.

Whatever stage your business is in this process, focus on moving the needle forward so that dealerships can sell more products and make more money.

The growing prominence of digital retailing opened significant opportunities for the aftermarket industry. We are still at early stages for providers to fully embrace the potential of digital retailing and give themselves a competitive advantage.

Give Consumers What They Want

The rise of digital retailing in the automotive business is driven by consumer pre ferences.

 Consumers continue to become more accustomed to shopping online, whether they search for the car, compare prices or understand add-on aftermarket products.

Aftermarket is a key aspect of the car buying experience. Just like other online transactions, car buyers seek transparency in all aspects of their deal including trade-ins, insurance/protection products, taxes & fees and more.

According to the Drive to Decide Survey*, 92% of car buyers do online research before they buy. In addition, 71% of consumers prefer to learn about F&I products online. Cox Automotive’s 2019 Car Buyer Journey research indicates 63% of shoppers are more likely to buy aftermarket products if they learn about them on their own time before they finalizes their vehicle purchase.

This demonstrates consumers’ desire for more seamless online to in-store car buying experiences – ones that includes the presentation of aftermarket options. Creating a better shopping experience could help increase sales and profits for dealers and providers.  

There is so much opportunity in the market––with car buyers who make more decisions online. By the time they arrive at the dealership, many of those car buyers are ready to buy.

For buyers who are not properly educated online during their shopping process, aftermarket products become an afterthought.

If a customer has already structured the deal with a monthly payment in mind, they’re less likely to buy additional products or options once in the store. In a published study by Stanford University, Best Buy learned that the hard way when they failed to add warranties to their online shopping experience. They lost a large portion of their warranty business in the process.

The 2018 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey study found 25% of car buyers are not aware of F&I products when they go to a dealership. That’s another reason it’s important to have educational resources available within a dealership’s digital retailing experience ––including their own website and on third-party websites.

Allowing consumers to learn about and price aftermarket products outside of the traditional F&I office experience may seem risky given that department’s high profit potential.

The truth is that online education within a digital retailing experience allows the F&I manager to extend their reach and effectiveness.

Think about a busy Saturday when there are six or eight customers waiting. Expose more customers to protection products online, and the F&I manager will spend less time educating buyers and more time expounding on products’ value and benefits, most likely to a more receptive audience.

Get Aftermarket Products Online

Most aftermarket providers already understand the value of putting F&I products online but accomplishing it the right way is a challenge. It’s a complex process to create real-time, dynamic content, descriptions and pricing for multiple products that is accurate, appealing and compliant with consumer protection regulations.

Let’s break down those elements and examine why they’re important.

  • Real-time connectivity with aftermarket providers is necessary to ensure up-to-date pricing and product details.
  • Dynamic pricing allows for coverage descriptions that accurately represent the product rating response. Product eligibility is often driven by factors such as VIN, mileage, zip code, lease vs. finance, finance terms and program type such as certified pre-owned. The product presentation needs to shift dynamically to reflect the available options and accurate pricing for each customer.
  • Appealing and engaging content showcases products for consumers to illustrate their value. The better the experience (descriptions, images, video, etc.) the more likely customers are to consume the information and buy the products. When combined with a recommendation algorithm based on vehicle, finance terms and other factors, this content can help customers discover the products that may benefit them the most. Finally, making your aftermarket presentations available in multiple languages increases your potential customer base.
  • Regulatory compliance hinges on how product information and coverage descriptions are presented or, more importantly, not presented. Whether a customer is online or at the dealership, they should be seeing the same aftermarket presentations and prices. There are also dynamic aspects to state-by-state compliance, with some states mandating specific language in the descriptions of certain types of products.

There are a lot of moving parts, but any aftermarket provider who wants to stand out may consider taking full ownership of the information about their products and be sure to hit all of these touch-points.

Take Aftermarket Sales to the Next Level

Aftermarket providers are key players that reduce friction during the buying process and help sell more products.

They start by owning the information about the products offered and effectively communicate their value to consumers.

Taking ownership of this means having a handle on all the variables that go into making content dynamic and engaging for the buyer. The goal is to ensure that costs and details are accurate and up-to-date, and that all aspects of the program are solidly grounded in regulatory compliance.

It takes time and expertise to build the necessary databases and marketing assets for an aftermarket provider to embrace the full potential of digital retailing. Accurate incorporation of aftermarket products into a dealership’s online presence is complex. It’s important to look for solutions providers who can partner with you to help eliminate the roadblocks to a comprehensive digital retailing experience.

Help Dealerships Succeed

Dealerships work to develop the right online marketing and sales strategy to help buyers get to “yes” online for the entire deal­­––and that includes aftermarket products. When it comes to solid customer experience, 51% of dealers look for support from partners. Aftermarket providers are in the position to help their dealerships partner deliver against the challenge.

Get In Front of the Pack  

The choice of technology partners and development of the right dynamic content provides a tremendous head start to your company and your products.. That said, it will not be an easy or quick process. Start by ensuring that your product descriptions are all in place, fully detailed and accurate at the price level being quoted. Also, work to make sure that customers receive the same information online and in-store.

From there, the next step is content that is dynamic to the consumer’s profile and vehicle, including mileage, finance terms and location.

Whatever stage your business is in this process, focus on moving the needle forward so that dealerships can sell more products and make more money.

*Source: 2018 Google/Kantar TNS U.S.

Rony Maalouf is associate vice president of product for Dealertrack’s contracting and aftermarket solutions, where he is primarily responsible for product strategy and innovation.